olds
Joyce, I suspect
Wed Dec 07, 2022 14:12

that you may be confusing concepts.

What you call "the Tombstone Story," the, so to say, crown jewel of which is the so-called gunfight at the O.K. Corral, is indeed mythic. That is, it has over time transcended the brute "facts" of the matter and become a metaphorical, iconic part of American folklore, as in truth has the whole mythology of the so-called Wild West, as has the myth of the so-called life and legend of Wyatt Earp. I seriously doubt that that is likely ever to change. Such myths, encrusted as they may be with historical inaccuracies, cannot be dispelled because they are, BY NOW, too deeply embedded in the historical zeitgeist and psychic culture of the country. They have, in sense--you of all people will appreciate the image--metastasized. They are immune to the chemotherapy that I suspect you would prescribe for them.

But I also suspect that that is not what you are asking about. I suspect that what you are asking about is not myths, but factual inaccuracies, which is something else entirely. And yes, needless to say, it is the job of the responsible historian to, not dis-spell, but correct them. It's called revision and is part and parcel of what historians do, typically as their research dredges new facts from the "record" that render the older ones replaceable and moot, and/or shine a brighter, sharper light on their possible meaning, and/or serve to bolster and buttress and augment those old ones, and/or fill-in certain pre-existing gaps in our knowledge.

There is a catch to this, however, which is called, hermeneutics, or the art of interpretation. It is called an art and not a science because there can exist a number of often conflicting interpretations about and conclusions to be drawn from the same set of facts depending upon who is doing the interpreting. Interpreting those facts is not a matter of 2+2 always and forever equals 4. It is not objective in that way. Even in the case of the most analytical, responsibly rigorous historical interpreter, there always will exist in such interpretations a degree of subjectivity (with respect to such matters as selection, sequencing, emphasis, angle or point of view, etc.), that is, the very subjectivity that accounts for differences of interpretation. Moreover, not every historical mind is as capable of plausible or persuasive interpretation as is every other mind. Historians have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Factual inaccuracies, where they exist, can and should be corrected, but for better or worse, those corrections in what I will call the "popular mind," are not likely to ever dis-spell the overarching mythic stature of the Tombstone Story, nor, even with those corrections solidly installed on the Record, are they likely to preclude conflicting and/or competing interpretations of them going forward. Which for my money is not necessarily a bad thing.

No definitive narrative, no consensus, no final word, open-endedness, the persistent asking of unanswered or previously unconsidered questions, ongoing controversy and conflict is part of what keeps interest in the subject, such as it is, somewhat alive. Certainly in that sense you are doing your responsible part, but if you expect to dislodge or even diminish the embedded status of the overall myth, if you have designs on "turning the tables" on that myth by debunking what is popularly perceived to be the heroes and replacing them with what is popularly perceived to be the villains, sorry, ain't gonna happen.

Historical accuracy to one side, such efforts are too little, too late. Besides, cruel truth, figuratively speaking, no one cares, unfortunately, not anymore.


  • It has been said...Joyce A. Aros, Wed Dec 07 2022 5:55
    ...that the responsibility of an Historian is to dispel myths. How do we do that? What is the right approach? Myths run rampant in almost every presentation regarding the Tombstone story. Can they be sorted... more
    • Joyce, I suspect — olds, Wed Dec 07 2022 14:12
      • Olds/ I think what you are....Joyce A. Aros, Wed Dec 07 2022 16:24
        ...trying to say so that I can understand it , is 'Crap, Joyce! Give it up! It can't be done.' Well, I read you over several times to see if I could understand but decided that was what I got out... more
        • Joyce, I'm sorryolds, Thu Dec 08 2022 6:25
          that you have difficulty understanding me, but then, as Andre Gide once wrote, "Please, do not understand me too quickly." Maybe you just need more time to mull. The thrust of what was I trying to say,... more
          • Olds/ mulling continuously...Joyce A. Aros, Fri Dec 09 2022 6:11
            ...You said something that I think made some sense to me. The difference between factual inaccuracies and myths. If I understand correctly, this is a comparison I need to grasp. But I think one blends... more
            • Unfortunately, if we areolds, Fri Dec 09 2022 10:37
              going to be precise and accurate in the way we use the language, to sufficiently answer your questions requires opening the pandora's box (which is itself a myth) of definitions. What, for instance, are... more
              • Smoke & Mirrors!....Joyce A. Aros, Fri Dec 09 2022 12:00
                ...As you probably knew it would, I got bogged down heavily until I got to "Perhaps..." And that is where I am. Trying to establish how and why these inaccuracies developed in the first place!... more
                • There is a whole otherolds, Fri Dec 09 2022 12:46
                  if no less abstract discussion to be had about the difference between Fact and Truth, but I will spare us both the "boggy" agony of going there.
                  • the "boggy" agony of going there...Dan Brown, Tue Dec 13 2022 16:18
                    I have to admit you have a way with words. A good way, actually.
                    • He certainly doesButch Badon, Thu Jan 05 11:54
                      And I hang onto every word of his writings. Butch
                    • Half the time, Dan,olds, Wed Dec 14 2022 5:41
                      I suspect that it's the words that are having their way with me, but I learned long ago not to fight their flow when they're flowing. Swimming against their tide gets you nowhere fast. It's a dance. They... more
                      • Remember what they saidDan Brown, Mon Dec 19 2022 22:35
                        About Ginger Rogers: she did everything Fred did and she did it backwards. You're all right on those tricky parts. Just keep the toes tapping.
          • Wow!!! You made my day!....Joyce A. Aros, Thu Dec 08 2022 7:47
            ...Thank you for your understanding and encouragement. I feel much better and more likely to accomplish some form of....accomplishment? You are very kind in that you shrank the whole thing down to... more
            • Re: Wow!!! You made my day!....Dan Brown, Tue Dec 13 2022 16:22
              Whilst we may disagree to agree, I harbor great admiration for your continuing spirited defense of those cowboys.
              • Dan, I am happy to know...Joyce A. Aros, Wed Dec 14 2022 5:48
                ...that you are enjoying these exchanges so much. Disagreement with patience is how we learn. Somebody has to defend those guys so I guess I will soldier on. Stick around; there are some interesting questions... more
    • Re: It has been said... (edited)B.J., Wed Dec 07 2022 10:26
      The Peer Review process is very important in determining the validity of any research document prior to publication. Whenever I complete a history research document for my history-masters program, my... more
      • But can we be sure that the peer...Joyce A. Aros, Wed Dec 07 2022 13:01
        ...review in itself is faultless? There are many history books out there that contain errors and some are subject to influence from myths that have developed, mine own included. Re-examination is always... more
        • Re: But can we be sure that the peer...B.J., Sat Dec 10 2022 1:15
          One of the first things which I have learned in my history graduate program: How little which I really knew about scholastic research. Also how some historians & history buff’s belief systems and... more
          • The McLaurysSharon Cunningham, Thu Dec 15 2022 8:05
            Discuss with Pam Potter, too, B.J. She, Paul J and the McLaury boys are all cousins!!
          • BJ/ I think we finally agree...Joyce A. Aros, Sat Dec 10 2022 8:35
            ...to some degree on something. But I don't see the McLaurys doing much high finance wheelin' and dealin.'
          • Hey Olds…B.J., Sat Dec 10 2022 1:30
            please remember to empty your vocabulary foley bag prior to posting a philosophical response my friend 😆
        • Peer ReviewB.J., Thu Dec 08 2022 1:21
          https://www.publisso.de/en/advice/publishing-advice-faqs/peer-review/